I have an 8 year old Paint gelding who is boarded and is receiving one scoop of sweet feed and grass hay. He is ridden 3-5 times/week and given a moderate workout each time. We trail ride in the summer. His body condition is good. He is somewhat hot and I have been reading about using a feed which provides calories in the form of fat, or possibly just using a ration balancer for hot horses. Is this something that you would recommend? What feeds do you recommend for hot horses? Also do you feel that the calming supplements work? Thank you, Jean
I like your idea of replacing his sweet feed with a ration balancer (or multi-vitamin) for several reasons. First, it doesn’t sound like he’s getting a full serving of this fortified grain for his age, weight and workload. When grain is cut back to reduce calories, nutrients such as protein, vitamins and minerals are also reduced. These can be put back in the diet (without adding calories or sugar) with a ration balancer or multi-vitamin/mineral supplement.
Second, did you know that sweet feed can contain as much as 50% sugars and starches? These simple carbohydrates can cause some horses to be a little “silly.” They are quickly digested or broken down in the stomach and small intestine then absorbed into the blood stream as glucose (blood sugar), leading to a spike in insulin release. Some horses seem to do better when their energy comes either from complex carbohydrates (which are fermented by microorganisms in the cecum and colon) or from fat.
As far as calming supplements, you may find you don’t need one after swapping out the sweet feed in his diet. But if you want to try this approach, keep in mind there are two broad categories of calming supplements: nutritional-based and herbal-based. Some horses respond better to the nutrients magnesium, B-vitamins and tryptophan (an amino acid) while other horses are able to normalize their nervous systems with herbs such as valerian, vervain, chamomile, hops, passion flower or others.